May 17, 2009

Translation examples: searching for accented words

A couple of minor improvements have been made to the Translation Examples service to allow more reliabe searching of words with accented characters (or charcters not from the "standard" Roman alphabet, such as the German ß).

In general, you can simply search for a word without including the accents. (If a version of the word you enter exists both with and without accent(s), then examples of both words will be returned.) This includes the c cedilla used in French and Portuguese. In German, to search for a word with ß, replace this with ss (in any case, the choice between ß and ss is arbitrary and subject to variation, not helped by the recent Rechtschreibreform).

At present, when you look up conjugated or delcined forms (e.g. different tense forms of verbs), these will be treated as separate words. For example, looking up the French form trouverai (afuture tense form of trouver) will list example translations including specifically the form trouverai (and not, say, trouver, trouveras etc).

This has advantages and disadvantages, and is something that will be thought about more as the site matures. On the one hand, the translation often isn't dependent per se on the particular person form, and a change in tense form often results in an uninteresting, predictable change in the translation. On the other hand, there are times when a change in one of these factors can bring about a less obvious change in the translation.

As always, feedback on the example translation search is welcome, and can be left as a comment on this blog entry, or on the French Language forum.

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